Opening Day Threat: Blue Jays Send Stroman To The Mound To Take On Archer and The Rays

Well, here we go. Opening Day is here.

Are you ready? Are you ready for perhaps the most highly anticipated Blue jays season in years? Are you ready to get as amped up for games as Marcus Stroman does whenever somebody records an out or hits a home run? Are you ready to consistently refresh the MLB app on your phone to try and follow the score of the game? Are you ready for Blue Jays baseball?!

Hell yeah you are. Let’s get rolling. 

Yesterday 

The Jays wrapped up their offseason with one final game in Montreal before everybody scattered to begin the season. A good chunk of the Jays’ big leaguers had already already travelled to Tampa Bay to prepare for Opening Day, so yesterday’s game was basically an opportunity for some minor league guys to get out there in front of a big league atmosphere. And big league atmosphere it certainly was, as more than 50,000 people showed up — and more than 100,000 people in total for the weekend — to watch the Jays and Red Sox at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. 

Anyways, Scott Copeland made the start for the Jays, going three strong innings, allowing no runs on one hit and two walks. After him, Shane Dawson, who played in A ball last year, had a rough time, giving up three runs in one-and-a-third innings of work. Chad Jenkins kept the good times rolling when he relieved Dawson, and allowed two more runs before eventually closing out the Red Sox’s five-run fifth inning. Dustin Antolin, Daniel Schlereth, and Casey Lawrence — I have no idea who these guys are — closed the final four innings of the game, allowing the Sox to pile on a couple more runs. 

The position player side of the exhibition game roster was slightly less underwhelming, or, well, more familiar,  as Kevin Pillar, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, Chris Colabello, and Ryan Goins each got two at bats before handing it over to the bench. Martin and Donaldson each drove in a run, and slugging prospect Rowdy Tellez also drove a run in off a double. 

Overall, it wasn’t a super exciting game to watch, and I’m very, very happy we can watch real baseball finally. 

News and Scuttlebutt

Last night, the Blue Jays announced that they had signed former Kansas City Royals left-handed reliever Franklin Morales to a one-year, $2 million contract (with incentives). He was pretty decent last year for Kansas, tossing 62.1 innings, with an ERA of 3.18 (FIP of 3.52), and a WHIP of 1.155. It isn’t super exciting, but still, I think he’s a more legitimate lefty option in the bullpen than Ryan Tepera is. Oh, and speaking of Tepera, he was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after this signing, so Morales will break camp with the Jays. 

And some more good news to pass around, both Junior Lake and Jesus Montero cleared waivers, and will be sent to Triple-A Buffalo. Lake is solid depth insurance just in case Saunders, Pillar, or Bautista get hurt and the Jays don’t feel that Dalton Pompey is ready to face big league pitching. I don’t think Montero is there as a catching option, considering he hasn’t played the position since 2013, so realistically, he provides some insurance in case the Jays need a right-handed masher at some point. I don’t know, I think they have a lot of those. 

The Jays also made some announcements on the injury front, as they placed Devon Travis, Bo Schultz, and Aaron Loup on the 15-Day DL retroactive to March 25, and Marco Estrada retroactive to March 26). 

Today

Real baseball! Marcus Stroman gets the ball for Toronto for the first Opening Day start of his Major League career. The Rays counter with Chris Archer, who’s making his second-consecutive start on Opening Day for Tampa Bay. 

So if the Jays wanted a test to see if their big bats are ready for the season, Tampa is certainly the team to have it against, because their starting pitching is loaded with talent. Tomorrow, it’ll be R.A. Dickey against Drew Smyly, on Tuesday, it’ll be Aaron Sanchez and Jake Odorizzi, and finally, on Wednesday, the four-game series will close when J.A. Happ faces Matt Moore.

TV: Sportsnet and MLB.tv

Radio: SN590

And now, the lineups…

Blue Jays 

Kevin Pillar (R) CF

Josh Donaldson (R) 3B

Jose Bautista (R) RF

Edwin Encarnacion (R) DH

Troy Tulowitzki (R) SS

Chris Colabello (R) 1B

Michael Saunders (L) LF

Russell Martin (R) C

Ryan Goins (L) 2B

Stroman SP

Rays 

Logan Forsythe (R) 2B

Logan Morrison (L) 1B

Evan Longoria (R) 3B

Corey Dickerson (L) DH

Desmond Jennings (R) LF

Brad Miller (L) SS

Steven Souza Jr. (R) RF

Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF

Hank Conger (S) C

Archer SP